1866 – 1925
Born in Brooklyn in 1866. Studied at Art Students League, New York City. Member of the Society of Illustrators 1901. Specialized in posters and cover designs.
Regarded as one of the most influential poster artists in America, Edward Penfield joined the publishing house Harper and Brothers at the age of twenty-five as a staff artist and editor. Shortly after his promotion to artistic director, Penfield created his first lithograph for Harper’s Magazine in 1893. Following its runaway success, he made posters advertising each successive issue of the magazine for over seven years. Magazine readers and poster collectors celebrated his designs for their boldness, abstraction, and occasional comic touch. Penfield also created advertisements and cover designs for books published by Harper and Brothers.
Not a boisterous self-promoter like some of his contemporaries — he rarely gave personal interviews — Penfield preferred to live a quiet life near his ancestral stomping grounds in New York. But at the same time he was considered “that rare person among artists, an active citizen.” He volunteered for civic duties, spoke at women’s clubs, taught at the Art Students League and served as president of the Society of Illustrators.
Penfield died 8 Feb 1925 at Craig House Sanitarium in Beacon, New York, while convalescing from a fall that injured his spine more than a year earlier.